Our political Quote of the Day comes from The Daily Beast’s John Avlon who looks at polling numbers and other data and notes that Republicans are being blamed more by many voters — including crucial swing voters — for the Supercommittee’s spectacular failure. Here are a few highlights:
Dig beneath the surface of Gallup’s new poll showing that 55 percent of Americans blame both parties for the failure of the supercommittee, and you’ll see the remaining breakdown leans decidedly against the GOP: 24 percent say Republicans were to blame, while 15 percent point the finger at Democrats. Among independent voters the split is even starker: 21 percent say the GOP was to blame, while just 9 percent say Democrats were the primary problem.
The key dynamic to watch is the nearly 2-to-1 split when independents and centrists are asked which party is to blame for supercommittee failure. It’s not news to note that partisans are polarized along party lines when assigning blame—the real news is the verdict from these swing voters that Republicans are the primary culprit.
It’s consistent with the dynamics driving congressional approval rates to historic lows. Remember that independent voters swung the 2010 elections to the GOP by a 17-point margin. But a recent CNN poll showed only 15 percent of independents approve of Republican leadership in Congress, compared with 21 percent of Democrats—still a pathetic poll number but notably less bad from voters who reject both parties by definition.
Likewise, only 14 percent of moderate voters approve of Republican leadership in Congress—surprisingly, that’s same percentage of liberals who approve of the GOP leadership—while 31 percent approve of Democrats in Congress. Again, there’s that 2-to-1 margin despite the fact that everyone is underwater in Washington.
AND further down:
In other words, there was ample public support for a grand bargain in addition to the congressional Gang of 150. A not-incidental 54 percent of independents say that they wanted to see more compromise from the supercommittee in pursuit of a deal. The supercommittee failed because of a lack of political will—particularly on the part of Republicans who refused to consider any revenue increases unless they were accompanied by major reductions in the top tax rate or a permanent extension of all the Bush tax cuts.
Somewhere a liberal strategist is reading these numbers and patting himself on the back for counseling the benefits of supercommittee failure so Democrats can campaign as the defenders of Social Security and Medicare in 2012. That is cynical and shortsighted. The Democrats on the committee were disorganized and never publicly released a coordinated party plan, while activist groups like the AARP were running ads condemning even the prospect of compromise that affected their benefits. Likewise, President Obama deserves criticism for not backing the recommendations of his own Bowles-Simpson commission when he had the chance. And even a cursory glance at the members of Congress selected for this supercommittee gave reason to think they were always being set up for failure.
But Republican blame for the supercommittee failure is resonating because it calls into question their commitment to actually dealing with the deficit and the debt. After all, it was not a popular conservative cause when deficits first started to explode during the Bush era. Instead, it seems to be a rallying cry when Democrats are in the White House, giving the impression that conservatives are more comfortable running against deficits and debt rather than actually making the tough decisions to deal with them—especially if it involves any new revenue. When taxes always trump deficit reduction, fiscal conservatism and fiscal responsibility have been delinked.
The supercommittee is just the latest and most painful example of this dysfunctional, divided Congress. Its failure will only deepen negative narratives about how special interests have been allowed to crowd out the national interest in our politics with real costs. And swing voters are starting to assign blame in ways that should be both a warning and a wake-up call to congressional Republicans as they look to 2012.
I don’t think the warning will be received by them.
It’s increasingly clear that the biggest fear is being on the wrong side of the ideological media coverage which includes talk radio hosts, cable hosts, Fox News, and new media web pundits and weblogs. It’s like a big enforcement committee. Plus there is this: there is little evidence that on a Congressional or White House level there is anyone with the political chops, persuasive skills, or courage to seriously try and reverse this trend.
Both ideological sides and parties seem locked into delivering their political mantras to their choirs and what sounds like a tired old song to those who don’t belong to their choirs.
FOOTNOTE: Avlon has a GREAT new book out “Deadline Artists” that is the definitive collection of great newspaper columns — from many years embracing many categories. There is NO OTHER BOOK like this. I will review it soon on TMV and will give it 15 out of 10 stars. I like this book so much that I will travel with it and order a second to be in my home library I may also get a copy to keep on my new Kindle.. If you love newspaper columns this is a MUST READ and a MUST OWN and no other book like it exists: